By Ivan Raconteur
Cities, counties, and other taxing districts will be conducting their annual Truth in Taxation (T-in-T) hearings soon, giving taxpayers their last opportunity to ask questions or provide input before final budgets and levies are approved for taxes payable in 2012.
The T-in-T meetings are the forum for taxpayers to comment on local budgets and ask cities and other taxing authorities to reduce their budget and levy before the final budget and levy are certified. This affects individual property tax amounts.
Cities and other taxing districts must certify their proposed levies by Sept. 15 (school districts by Sept. 30) each year, and although these preliminary levies cannot be increased, they can be decreased before the final budget and levy are approved in each taxing district.
The T-in-T meetings are the forum for taxpayers to comment on local budgets and ask cities and other taxing authorities to reduce their budget and levy before the final budget and levy are certified.
Cities with populations greater than 500, counties, school districts, and metropolitan special taxing districts are no longer required to conduct special T-in-T hearings, but must conduct a regular scheduled meeting during which budget and levy will be discussed and members of the public will be allowed to speak. These hearings must take place between Nov. 25 and Dec. 26, and must be conducted after 6 p.m. If a regular meeting is not scheduled during this period, then a special meeting will be required.
Each jurisdiction must certify its final levy prior to five business days after Dec. 20.
Townships must certify their proposed levy on or before Sept. 15, but they are exempt from the T-in-T public meeting requirement. In most cases, this will be the certification of the levy that was adopted at the annual township meeting in March, and will be the final, as well as the preliminary levy for the township.
The T-in-T process was enacted by the legislature in 1988, according to the Minnesota House of Representatives House Research department.
The components of the T-in-T process include public advertisements regarding budgets and levies of certain taxing jurisdictions, parcel-specific notices sent to property owners, public hearings, and changes in property tax statements.
According to the House research department, the main purposes of T-in-T are:
• to enhance public participation in the tax system;
• to educate the public on how property taxes are determined;
• to encourage the public to understand the local government budget process; and
• to encourage the public to become involved in helping local officials set spending priorities.
The T-in-T notices (also called property tax statements) help taxpayers to see whether property tax changes (increases or decreases) were due to changes in local government spending, or due to other factors, such as changes in the property’s market value or state aid.
The property tax statement reflects a comparison of the property’s current valuation, state aids/credits, and property taxes to the same information for the previous year.
Property tax statements are mailed after Nov. 10, but no later than Nov. 24 each year.
Special assessments are not listed on property tax statements because this information is not available from cities at the time the statements are prepared.
assessments are not listed on property tax statements because this information is not available from cities at the time the statements are prepared. Property taxes may change from the amount listed on property tax statements for the following reasons:arings are generally required for cities
• special assessments not listed on the statement.et